Restorer of the Paths

Ezekiel 22:30-31 “And I sought for a man among them, that should make up the hedge, and stand in the gap before me for the land, that I should not destroy it: but I found none. Therefore have I poured out mine indignation upon them; I have consumed them with the first of my wrath: their own way have I recompensed upon their heads, saith the Lord GOD.”

Isaiah 58:11-12 “And the LORD shall guide thee continually, and satisfy thy soul in drought, and make fat thy bones: and thou shalt be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters fail not. And they that shall be of thee shall build the old waste places: thou shalt raise up the foundations of many generations; and thou shalt be called, The repairer of the breach, The restorer of paths to dwell in.”

God is looking for a faithful few who He can use to make up the hedge, stand in the gap, and repair the breach. When a society is diverging from Him, He simply seeks those who will act righteously to forego judgment and forestall wrath. In doing so, these faithful individuals can build up the old waste places, raise up stable foundations, and restore the paths of protection and provision. This is exactly what our society needs today.

The righteous remnant that acts for the Lord and relies upon His strength can have a national, multi-generational impact. They would revive those things from the past that are good and right. They would mend those things that created division and discord. They would provide opportunities for human flourishing. They would create the conditions for a thriving and prospering community. They would establish stable structures of societal success. They would cast a bold vision for the future and create plans for bring it to fruition. They would provide the true and meaningful leadership that God directs and that human-nature demands.

Their results stem from a continual outpouring of the LORD’s presence!

This is not an idle fabrication or an idealistic fantasy. It can be a reality in our society today. But it requires us to live up to God’s contingencies of righteousness and Christ-centeredness (to be discussed more in future posts). And it saddens the Lord when He is unable to find the faithful few who can carry out His plans for such a community, such a society, and such a nation.

PLEASE PRAY FOR AMERICAN CHRISTIANS TO RISE UP TO GOD’S STANDARDS SO THAT WE CAN MAKE UP THE HEDGE, STAND IN THE GAP, AND REPAIR THE BREACH. What a blessing it would be to live in a land where our paths have been restored. A future like that is contingent upon us and reliant upon God.

True Democracy

Galatians 5:13-14 “For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another. For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.”

II Corinthians 3:17 “Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.”

As a devotional to military members during World War II, Pastor Williams Pierson Merrill wrote these powerful words (from “Strength for Service”):

“We have seen one nation after another come under despotic rule. Over against this we set our ideal of liberty. But we have been quite too ready to identify liberty with irresponsibility. It might startle us to recall how many times we have heard, ‘This is a free country,’ used to justify what no right-minded citizen should be guilty of. True democracy, can be attained neither by control nor by absence of control, but by self-control. Only those able to control themselves can be trusted safely to live without external control.”

During his inauguration address on January 20, 1961, President John F. Kennedy spoke the following:

“In the long history of the world, only a few generations have been granted the role of defending freedom in its hour of maximum danger. I do not shrink from this responsibility – I welcome it. I do not believe that any of us would exchange places with any other people or any other generation. The energy, the faith, the devotion which we bring to this endeavor will light our country and all who serve it – and the glow from that fire can truly light the world.

And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country.

My fellow citizens of the world: ask not what America will do for you, but what together we can do for the freedom of man.

Finally, whether you are citizens of America or citizens of the world, ask of us here the same high standards of strength and sacrifice which we ask of you. With a good conscience our only sure reward, with history the final judge of our deeds, let us go forth to lead the land we love, asking His blessing and His help, but knowing that here on earth God’s work must truly be our own.”

Far too often, we clamor for our rights while neglecting our responsibilities. We demand liberty while embracing irresponsibility. We selfish ask things for ourselves rather than offering up ourselves. We seek personal gain while neglecting the collective good.

God condemns us for doing so. Instead, He directs us to use our liberty, not for an occasion to meet the needs of the craving flesh but as an opportunity to collectively flourish. We are to serve instead of demand service. We are to embrace obedience to embody liberty.

PLEASE PRAY THAT AMERICAN CHRISTIANS WOULD ELEVATE OUR RESPONSIBILITIES INSTEAD OF DEMANDING OUR RIGHTS. True liberty and true democracy can only be obtained by a society that esteems responsibility and self-control.

Picture: AP

So Is the Will of God

I Peter 2:11-17 “Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul; Having your conversation honest among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evil-doers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation. Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme; Or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well. For so is the will of God, that with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men: As free, and not using your liberty for a cloke of maliciousness, but as the servants of God. Honour all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honour the king.”

Matthew 5:16 “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”

II Corinthians 5:20 “Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God.”

I Timothy 2:1-2 “I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men. For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.”

In the last two weeks, we began our journey into 2023. Also, our nation began its journey under the legislative leadership of the 118th Congress. Thus, it is a perfect week to reflect upon our relation to the Lord, to one another, and to our leaders. I Peter 2 gives a wonderful dose of advice in doing so.

Christians have a critical role in our society and must soberly live up to our responsibilities. We are to live with honesty and righteousness. And regardless of the circumstances, we are to honor all men and pray for them, love one another, and fear God. In relation to our leaders, we are to submit to them, pray for them, and honor them.

Doing so requires a Godly spirit and a yielded heart, especially when we are belittled for our beliefs, criticized for our convictions, and concerned about our country’s course. Yet, doing so silences those who are ignorant. It also gives the world and our leaders an opportunity to see our good works and glorify our Father which is in heaven. After all, we are directed to be ambassadors for Christ.

Prayer is an essential component to the fulfillment of the elements listed above. That includes individual prayer for our country and our leaders, and collective prayer for the same. A few weeks ago, I challenged American Christians to use the model of Supreme Prayer to replicate and multiply (https://prayatlunch.us/replication-and-multiplication/). I’m now asking for a favor that naturally flows from that challenge. Please let me know how you are implementing that challenge in your life, and if able send pictures of you doing so (plusgroupsus@gmail.com). I will use these to further encourage others as we collectively strive for the substantial impact amplified by I Peter 2 and the other verses listed above.

PLEASE PRAY FOR OUR ABILITY TO IMPLEMENT SUCH BIBLICAL DIRECTION IN OUR RELATION TO GOD, TO OTHERS, AND TO OUR LEADERS. So is the will of God.

Thenceforward and Forever Free

John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

Romans 10:13 “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

John 6:37 “All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.”

Ephesians 1:13 “In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise”

On January 1, 1863, a powerful, revolutionary, and righteous proclamation went into effect in the United States of America, signed by President Abraham Lincoln. The Emancipation Proclamation, in part, stated the following:

“That on the first day of January, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, all persons held as slaves within any State or designated part of a State, the people whereof shall then be in rebellion against the United States, shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free; and the Executive Government of the United States, including the military and naval authority thereof, will recognize and maintain the freedom of such persons, and will do no act or acts to repress such persons, or any of them, in any efforts they may make for their actual freedom.”

In that instant, 3.5 million human beings who had been made in God’s image, though they were being inhumanely enslaved, were declared permanently and forever free and reconciled to a transforming society. While the majority of those slaves could not be immediately freed because of their position behind enemy Confederate lines, the proclamation provided a promise of future freedom. And once they found freedom, that freedom would be recognized and maintained by the full power of the federal government.

God provides an even more powerful, revolutionary and righteous proclamation in His Word and through His Son. At the moment we accept Jesus Christ as our Saviour, we are permanently and forever free of our sin and reconciled to the Lord. The promise of future freedom happens immediately at the moment of spiritual transformation. And, once we find freedom, that freedom is recognized and maintained by the full power of an amazing Lord.

PLEASE PRAY THAT AMERICAN CHRISTIANS WOULD EMBRACE AND PROCLAIM THE TRUTHS OF OUR EMANCIPATION.

And now, 160 years after the Emancipation Proclamation, Americans must never cease striving together to form a more perfect union. While we do, we must remain stunningly mindful and deeply appreciative of the Bible’s proclamation of an emancipation available to all.

Blind Dates

Acts 8:26-31 “And the angel of the Lord spake unto Philip, saying, Arise, and go toward the south unto the way that goeth down from Jerusalem unto Gaza, which is desert. And he arose and went: and, behold, a man of Ethiopia, an eunuch of great authority under Candance queen of the Ethiopians, who had the charge of all her treasure, and had come to Jerusalem to worship, Was returning, and sitting in his chariot read Esaias the prophet. Then the Spirit said unto Philip, Go near, and join thyself to this chariot. And Philip ran thither to him, and heard him read the prophet Esaias, and said, Understandest thou what thou readest? And he said, How can I, except some man should guide me? And he desired Philip that he would come up and sit with him.”

Acts 9:10-17 “And there was a certain disciple at Damascus, named Ananias; and to him said the Lord in a vision, Ananias. And he said, Behold, I am here, Lord. And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the street which is called Straight, and enquire in the house of Judas for one called Saul of Tarsus: for, behold, he prayeth. And hath seen in a vision a man named Ananias coming in, and putting his hand on him, that he might receive his sight. Then Ananias answered, Lord, I have heard by many of this man, how much evil he hath done to thy saints at Jerusalem: And here he hath authority from the chief priests to bind all that call on thy name. But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel: For I will shew him how great things he must suffer for my name’s sake. And Ananias went his way, and entered into the house; and putting his hands on him said, Brother Saul, the Lord, even Jesus, that appeared unto thee in the way as thou camest, hath sent me, that thou mightiest receive thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost.”

As American men were being sent to all corners of the world to serve their country in the midst of the global conflict of World War II, Chaplain Stewart Robinson wrote the following (from “Strength for Service”):

“There is more reason in our unanticipated movements and more preparation than we realize. Philip was sent on a ‘blind date.’ But the all-seeing eye of God was looking into the desert, and the man to meet Philip came. He was reading God’s word about the Saviour. The ground was prepared … So God uses us in many places.”

Maybe your 2022 didn’t turn out like you expected. Maybe God’s plans didn’t align with your plans, and you found yourself in an unexpected and seemingly undesirable desert. While there, maybe you were able to make an impact that was obvious at the time, or maybe you are still wondering about the purpose and meaning of it all as the calendar flips to 2023.

In the following chapter in Acts, Ananias is sent on a mission that also made no sense to him at the time. Just to make sure he was hearing the Lord’s calling properly, he asked again. But, like Philip, once he had his orders, he quickly and directly obeyed. And as with the eunuch, God had perfectly prepared Saul for the engagement.

We must remind ourselves that there is more reason in our unanticipated movements and more preparation than we realize. The all-seeing eye of God is always looking into the desert and perfectly preparing the way. The same happened in 2022 and the same will happen in 2023.

PLEASE PRAY FOR FAITHFUL OBEDIENCE IN ALL THE SITUATIONS THE LORD SENDS US IN THE NEW YEAR. We must be faithful for the blind-dates that God has prepared for us.

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